The Ritual – Episode 1 – Mystery at Musgrave Hall


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Below we present the complete text of ‘Mystery at Musgrave Hall’; episode 1 of The Ritual.

Gaslamp Mystery - GM002 - The Ritual

Gaslamp Mystery – GM002 – The Ritual

ACT 1

INTRODUCTION (ELDER SHERLOCK HOLMES)

  1. MUSIC: [1] OPENING THEME — LET IT FINISH.
  2. ELDER HOLMES: As I have noted elsewhere, the reminiscences recorded by my esteemed friend Dr John Watson (via the equally estimable Arthur Conan Doyle) were largely fabrications.
    Each held a kernel of truth of course, but Watson kept the real facts of the matters secret at my behest, awaiting a time when they could more safely be made known to the world.
    Few realize just how dangerous the world really is and it has been my experience that those whose curiosity is piqued to too high a degree can find themselves in serious danger, a fact well illustrated by my first “paying” case.
    In 1881 I had graduated from the university and was looking to establish myself as a consulting detective. To say this displeased my older brother Mycroft is rather like referring to the Pacific Ocean as “that little lake.”
    Mycroft, who was also my legal guardian after the deaths of our parents, had wanted me to enter government service (as he had done) and when I showed little inclination to do so, had cut me off financially — in the hope it would bring me to my senses. Sadly, being of a stubborn disposition, his actions only served to harden my resolve and formed a breach between us that would be years in the mending.
    Having finished at university I came to London and proceeded to search for lodgings. My only money was what was left over from the university year and, as I had not expected to encounter such straightened times, there was little enough of it to go around. I put one month’s rent down on a tiny room in Soho and then, rather extravagantly, put my last few coins into a small advertisement in The Times.

SCENE 1: INT. — HOLMES’ SOHO ROOM — MIDDAY (REGINALD, YOUNG HOLMES)

  1. SOUND: [17] KNOCKING ON DOOR — LET IT FINISH.
  2. REGINALD: Holmes? Holmes, are you there, man?
  3. SOUND: [18] DOOR OPENING — LET IT FINISH.
  4. REGINALD: Good Lord, man! Is this the way you open the door to company. Throw some clothes on at least.
  5. YOUNG HOLMES: What? Oh, of course! One moment! (BEAT) What time is it?
  6. REGINALD: (DISAPROVING) It is after twelve.
  7. YOUNG HOLMES: Oh, don’t give me that look. I was up most of the night engaging in some research… not bending the elbow. Come in.
  8. SOUND: [19] DOOR CLOSES — LET IT FINISH.
  9. REGINALD: This isn’t the sort of digs I expected to find you in, Holmes! Is everything alright?
  10. YOUNG HOLMES: What? Oh, yes, of course. A temporary financial setback I’m afraid. What can I do for you?
  11. REGINALD: (DOUBTFULLY) I see. Perhaps, my visit isn’t convenient at the moment?
  12. YOUNG HOLMES: Lord Musgrave, you have travelled quite some distance by train to come and see me. The least you can do, having arrived, is tell me the reason for your visit.
  13. REGINALD: Well, one thing hasn’t changed since university. You can still do that parlor trick of yours. What was it this time? The mud on my boots? Some tell-tale mark about my clothing?
  14. YOUNG HOLMES: The soot. You’ve obviously been travelling on one of the Overlanders and gotten off at Victoria Station. You haven’t so much as brushed the soot from the train off your top-coat so I surmised you went straight to a cab and came here.
  15. REGINALD: As unnerving as that ability of yours is, it does give me some comfort that I have come to the right place.
  16. YOUNG HOLMES: I’m sure. May I ask what enabled you to find me? We were hardly good chums at the university and, while I am eager for an engagement, I don’t believe there was anyone, with the possible exception of Victor Trevor, who knew enough of my doings to be able to locate me in London.
  17. REGINALD: It was your advertisement in The Times. But of course you already knew that, didn’t you?
  18. YOUNG HOLMES: It is useful to have these things confirmed. (BEAT) Well, what brings young Lord Reginald Musgrave, most recently of Musgrave Hall, to my door?
  19. REGINALD: A mystery, Sherlock. One that is beyond my meager powers and highly vexing to me. Naturally I will pay your consultation fee, but I would also consider it a personal favor if you would look into the matter.
  20. YOUNG HOLMES: I would be delighted, old man. But first give me the data. What has happened — and be as complete in the telling of the facts as you can be?
  21. REGINALD: I would be glad to… (BEAT) But perhaps not here. Could we perhaps…
  22. YOUNG HOLMES: Come, come, man. It’s not as if the walls have ears.
  23. REGINALD: It’s not that Holmes. (WEARILY) As you have rightly surmised I have had a long and tiring journey and would, if you would indulge me, prefer to be seated while we discuss the matter further. As your lodgings are in no fit state for such a discussion — do you really need to cover every surface with books? — I thought perhaps a trip to the Criterion Bar might be in order.
  24. YOUNG HOLMES: Forgive me. We shall get under way posthaste.
  25. SOUND: [20] DOOR OPENS — UNDER.
  26. REGINALD: Er… Holmes?
  27. YOUNG HOLMES: Yes. Old Chap?
  28. REGINALD: Your wardrobe.
  29. YOUNG HOLMES: What? (BEAT) Oh. I see. Yes. Of course. I’ll be but a moment.
  30. MUSIC: [3] (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 2: INT — THE CRITERION BAR — MID AFTERNOON (YOUNG HOLMES, REGINALD, MARTHA)

  1. SOUND: [8] (WALLA) MURMUR OF PATRONS, CLINK OF GLASSES — ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. YOUNG HOLMES: Alright, Musgrave, you’ve grown more and more tight-lipped and mysterious the longer this has gone on. I apologize for the circuitous route we took getting here. The reason will become apparent fairly shortly. As for your own concerns, now is the time, man. Spit it out. What’s bothering you?
  3. REGINALD: I’m sorry, Holmes. It is all so dashed confounding. Someone has tried to kill me. A musket, of all things, was fired at me through my sitting-room window. The ball missed me but I was covered in the glass from the shattered window. An attempt to break in was also made an evening later — last evening to be precise. I was hoping to bring you down to Musgrave Hall to look into things for me.
  4. YOUNG HOLMES: I see. I take it this isn’t the only thing that has confounded you.
  5. REGINALD: You’re right again. Two members of my domestic staff have disappeared. Neither has taken their belongings. They are just missing. I am concerned that something may have happened to them.
  6. YOUNG HOLMES: Hmmm.
  7. REGINALD: Dash it all, what do you mean by “hmmm?”
  8. YOUNG HOLMES: Simply that, Reginald. You are obviously distressed at the disappearances but you suspect something more than foul play or you would have brought them to my attention earlier. What is it you are afraid of?
  9. REGINALD: I was not on the best of terms with the two staff members who disappeared. I had threatened one with dismissal and the other I had actually dismissed (while granting him a week to locate a new position).
  10. YOUNG HOLMES: And you are concerned that the two of them may have more to do with what has been occurring than merely being among its first victims? I see.
  11. REGINALD: True enough, Sherlock. I would like to avoid a scandal if possible.
  12. YOUNG HOLMES: (DISTRACTED) Very wise… (MUTTERING) Now where is she? She’s usually found me by now.
  13. SOUND: [21] SHOCKED MURMURING. COMMOTION IN THE BAR — LET IT FINISH.
  14. MARTHA: (DISTANT) If’n you don’t get out of my way right now, long shanks, I’ll be forced to cripple you. I’m ’ere to see Mr Sherlock ’olmes.
  15. YOUNG HOLMES: Ah, there she is. And carrying fresh bread too.
  16. MARTHA: ’allo Mr ’olmes. Fancy finding you ’ere.
  17. YOUNG HOLMES: It took you a little longer than usual this time, Miss Hudson.
  18. MARTHA: Well, the turn you took round Piccadilly Circus ’ad me thrown for a moment but I never quite lost your trail. ’ow goes your research?
  19. YOUNG HOLMES: Swimmingly, thank you.
  20. MARTHA: I see. (TO MUSGRAVE) You’ll ’ave to forgive Mr ’olmes fer not introducin’ me. ’is rudeness is somewhat legendary. My name is Martha ’udson an’ I’m here to deliver Mr ’olmes ’is lunch.
  21. REGINALD: I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Hudson. I am Lord Reginald Musgrave, at your service.
  22. MARTHA: (TO HOLMES) Ooh! You see, Mr ’olmes. There’s still men o’ breeding what knows ’ow to address a lady.
  23. YOUNG HOLMES: (IRRITATED) How is it, Miss Hudson, that a woman of such exceptional intellect and observational capacity should fail to teach herself simple English diction? You sound like an alley cat.
  24. MARTHA: You what?
  25. YOUNG HOLMES: (MOCKING IMITATION) You what? (BEAT) Is that my luncheon?
  26. SOUND: [22] SOUND OF BREAD BEING DUMPED ON TABLE — LET IT FINISH.
  27. MARTHA: (COLDLY) You owe me for today ’n yesterday besides.
  28. YOUNG HOLMES: Reginald, old chap?
  29. REGINALD: Yes, Holmes.
  30. YOUNG HOLMES: Would you be so kind?
  31. REGINALD: What? Oh. (BEAT) Of course. Will this cover it, Miss Hudson?
  32. MARTHA: Why that would be most generous, sir.
  33. REGINALD: Now, Holmes, to business. Will you accept the engagement?
  34. YOUNG HOLMES: I think not. It sounds a little too dull, frankly.
  35. REGINALD: Now see here!
  36. MARTHA: I take it you are offering to pay Mr ’olmes for a consultation, Lord Musgrave.
  37. REGINALD: (SOUNDING DECIDEDLY FLUSTERED) I was, but Mr Holmes appears to have…
  38. MARTHA: Mr ’olmes appears to ’ave judged a little prematurely, Lord Musgrave. I believe once ’e ’as all the facts at ’is disposal ’e’ll see ’is way clear to givin’ you an ’and.
  39. YOUNG HOLMES: And what gives you the right to pry into my business affairs, Miss Hudson?
  40. MARTHA: Naught but the fact that right now you ’ave no business an’ you never will, less’n you get over your impatience an’ ’ear your potential clients out to the end o’ what they ’as to say.
  41. YOUNG HOLMES: I’ll have you to understand Miss Hudson…
  42. MARTHA: (IGNORING HOLMES) As Mr ’olmes’ largest creditor, Lord Musgrave, I think it only fitting that I ask you to inform Mr ’olmes of any other details you may ’ave so far left out.
  43. REGINALD: (A BIT NONPLUSSED) Well, I suppose… I mean to say… We haven’t discussed the attempted robbery yet.
  44. YOUNG HOLMES: (YAWNS THEATRICALLY)
  45. REGINALD: Yes, well. I believe someone broke in to the Hall in order to steal the Ritual.
  46. YOUNG HOLMES: (SUDDENLY INTERESTED) I do beg your pardon, but what did you say?
  47. REGINALD: The Ritual. It’s a piece of verse pasted into the front of the family Bible. Little more than a piece of doggerel really, but handed down from father to son since the time of King Charles the First. It’s called the Musgrave Ritual.
  48. YOUNG HOLMES: Good Lord, man. Why didn’t you mention this at the first? It changes everything.
  49. REGINALD: It does? So you’ll take the case?
  50. YOUNG HOLMES: Most assuredly. But on one condition.
  51. REGINALD: (WARILY) What’s that?
  52. YOUNG HOLMES: I’ll need you to engage one of my most talented operatives in your employ for the duration of the investigation.
  53. REGINALD: I am missing a cook and a butler at present so I think I can…
  54. YOUNG HOLMES: Perfect, she’s an excellent cook. We’ll travel back to Musgrave Hall with you this afternoon. (BEAT) Miss Hudson, how soon can you pack?
  55. MARTHA: What?
  56. YOUNG HOLMES: How soon can you pack? We need to be underway immediately.
  57. MARTHA: But I’m not…
  58. YOUNG HOLMES: Miss Hudson, let us imagine for a moment that, without the diversion of tracking me around London in order to deliver my meals, keeping house for your tenants at 221B (TWO TWO ONE B) Baker Street will be the most exciting and interesting thing you do during the next few days…
  59. MARTHA: Ah…
  60. YOUNG HOLMES: Quite so. I can count on you then?
  61. MARTHA: Mr ’olmes, I think I’d best be off ’n pack… but if you ever represent me as one of your operatives again, talented or not…
  62. YOUNG HOLMES: Yes, Miss Hudson?
  63. MARTHA: Well, Mr ’olmes, you’ll be nursing a black eye fer a week.
  64. MUSIC: [3] (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH.

ACT 2

SCENE 3: INT. — THE KITCHEN AT MUSGRAVE HALL — EARLY EVENING (ELDER HOLMES, YOUNG HOLMES, REGINALD, MARTHA)

  1. SOUND: [9] (WALLA) KITCHEN NOISES, BREAD BEING CUT, SOUP BUBBLING, CLINK OF CROCKERY ETC. — ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. ELDER HOLMES: We arrived at Musgrave Hall shortly after dark…
  3. YOUNG HOLMES: When you said you had lost two of your domestic staff, Reginald, I had rather assumed you did not mean you had lost your entire retinue.
  4. REGINALD: Oh, I haven’t, Holmes. But I have lost all but one. My housekeeper remains, but she lives in the village rather than on the premises, and I had given her the day off due to my absence.
  5. YOUNG HOLMES: I see. Why so small a group? It’s not like you don’t have the money.
  6. REGINALD: Ah, I see? No, Holmes, I’m not in financial difficulties, but I do live here alone and a large staff seemed a little, well, self-indulgent for one bachelor on his own.
  7. YOUNG HOLMES: Mmmm.
  8. MARTHA: Look out, Mr ’olmes, Lord Musgrave. This (GRUNTING) pot of soup is both ’eavy and ’ot.
  9. SOUND: [23] CLUNK OF HEAVY POT BEING PLACED ON TABLE — LET IT FINISH.
  10. REGINALD: You know, I don’t believe I’ve actually been inside this kitchen since I was a boy. I used to spend a lot of time here trying to steal cakes from the pantry.
  11. MARTHA: Well, listen to ’im. You’d think it were a lark to be eatin’ in the same space as most of us ’ave ’ad to do our entire lives.
  12. REGINALD: You’re refreshingly outspoken, Miss Hudson.
  13. YOUNG HOLMES: Oh, don’t pay Miss Hudson too much mind, Reginald. She may sound like a scullery maid…
  14. MARTHA: (AFFRONTED) Mr ’olmes!
  15. YOUNG HOLMES: But she’s firmly lodged in the middle class; a woman of property who runs a rooming house in London.
  16. REGINALD: Is that so, Miss Hudson?
  17. MARTHA: (COLDLY) Yes it is. Now eat yer soup!
  18. REGINALD: You don’t seem particularly pleased to have that fact known. Why is that? I would have thought you’d be proud.
  19. MARTHA: Frankly, Lord Musgrave…
  20. YOUNG HOLMES: Listen carefully, Reginald, I think you’ll enjoy this.
  21. MARTHA: Frankly, Lord Musgrave, I try not to care what people think of me, one way or t’other. It quite winds me up that whether you were born man or woman, whether you were born to the big ’ouse or the cottage, and the way you speak all combine to determine ’ow seriously you’ll be taken in this world regardless o’ what you know ’n what you can do.
  22. REGINALD: (AMUSED) Well, Mr Holmes, you’ve brought a radical into my house.
  23. MARTHA: A what?
  24. REGINALD: Are you a member of Mr Shaw’s Fabians by any chance?
  25. MARTHA: Am I what?
  26. REGINALD: (AS TO A CHILD) Are you a socialist, Miss Hudson?
  27. MARTHA: Well, why didn’t you say so? No, Lord Musgrave, I’m not. I believe in an ’onest day’s wage fer an ’onest day’s work (whether yer from the palace or the market). I just don’t believe that where ye’re from an’ ’ow you speak should ’old you back.
  28. REGINALD: How commendable. And what of heredity? Surely you recognize that breeding allows the higher nature to be refined and distilled within the upper classes?
  29. YOUNG HOLMES: Reginald is somewhat enamored with the writings of Malthus and the Eugenicists.
  30. MARTHA: And ’oo are they when the lights are on?
  31. YOUNG HOLMES: They believe in the survival of the fittest. Basically, they believe that less fit members of our society should be sterilized in order to prevent less worthwhile traits from being passed on and polluting the race. It’s only the latest in quite a string of philosophical viewpoints Reginald has adopted.
  32. REGINALD: Now, Holmes. Don’t be like that. I’ll admit that in my youth I did indulge in a number of misplaced enthusiasms for fringe notions and ideas. But this time it’s hardly a fashion. In a few short years it will be a brand new century. One in which only the brave and strong will have a place. Surely you can see that, can’t you?
  33. MARTHA: A little impractical, isn’t it?
  34. REGINALD: (DISTRACTED) How so?
  35. MARTHA: Well, sterilization o’ the useless is all fine ’n good in theory but I doubt you’ll be able to get the ’ouse of Lords to stand idly by while its entire membership is castrated.
  36. REGINALD: (DEEPLY SHOCKED) Good grief, woman! Do you hear yourself? Are you a fool?
  37. YOUNG HOLMES: Oh, Martha’s hearing is only too good and, as you yourself noted, she’s also quite outspoken. But one thing she is not, Reginald, is a fool.
  38. REGINALD: But dash it all, Holmes, she just suggested I be castrated… and in my own home what’s more.
  39. YOUNG HOLMES: Actually she did not.
  40. REGINALD: But I distinctly heard her say…
  41. YOUNG HOLMES: No, Reginald, you heard her say that she thought you wanted the members of the House of Lords castrated and that she thought it was a rather impractical idea.
  42. REGINALD: What? But I never?
  43. YOUNG HOLMES: Really, Reginald, you do need to make your meaning more plain if these misunderstandings are going to be avoided.
  44. REGINALD: Well, I never intended…
  45. MARTHA: Apology accepted, Lord Musgrave.
  46. REGINALD: (SPLUTTERING WITH INDIGNATION) Apology?
  47. MARTHA: (BUSINESS-LIKE AND IGNORING MUSGRAVE) Now, Mr ’olmes. ’ow do you propose to begin your investigation?
  48. YOUNG HOLMES: To start with, I would be very surprised if our thieves did not stage another attempt to retrieve The Ritual this evening. After a quick look at the ritual itself, I believe we should take turns standing watch over the Musgrave family Bible. I will happily take first watch.
  49. MARTHA: Fair enough. I will take over at midnight.
  50. YOUNG HOLMES: Be sure to stay away from any windows. We know that, whoever is responsible, they have at least one weapon, possibly more.
  51. REGINALD: Is it wise to let a woman stand watch, Holmes?
  52. MARTHA: You are aware that I’m right ’ere, aren’t you?
  53. YOUNG HOLMES: Martha is extremely capable, Reginald. You need have no concerns on that account.
  54. MARTHA: Thank you, Mr ’olmes.
  55. YOUNG HOLMES: She has a scream that would wake the dead and we can be by her side in the merest of moments.
  56. MARTHA: ’ere!
  57. REGINALD: (SULKILY) Well, you seem to have everything in hand. I think I will call it an evening.
  58. SOUND: [24] SCRAPING OF CHAIRS ETC. — LET IT FINISH.
  59. YOUNG HOLMES: Very good, Reginald. Keep your door open and be ready for action if called upon.
  60. REGINALD: Good night.
  61. MARTHA: Good night.
  62. SOUND: [25] FOOTSTEPS. KITCHEN DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES — LET IT FINISH.
  63. MARTHA: Don’t you think you were a little hard on the poor fellow, Mr ’olmes?
  64. YOUNG HOLMES: Not especially. His ideas are particularly offensive at present. I note that you didn’t exactly hold back yourself.
  65. MARTHA: No, but I was mainly followin’ your lead. Was there a purpose to that little set to?
  66. YOUNG HOLMES: Well, yes. But I doubt you will be very happy with it.
  67. MARTHA: Out with it then?
  68. YOUNG HOLMES: As you may now realize, Reginald, while being a splendid specimen of manhood in many respects, is… somewhat flighty and a bit of an ass.
  69. MARTHA: True enough.
  70. YOUNG HOLMES: He also fancies himself something of a ladies man.
  71. MARTHA: So?…
  72. YOUNG HOLMES: Well, I felt it prudent to direct his attentions away from you while we are working in his house.
  73. MARTHA: You what?
  74. YOUNG HOLMES: I simply felt we could do without the distraction of having him following you about the place making puppy-dog eyes.
  75. MARTHA: (ANGRY) I see. And you figure I’m not good enough for ’is Lordship, is that it?
  76. YOUNG HOLMES: Not at all, Martha. In fact quite the opposite. You outclass Reginald in almost every way. Put flatly, you are far too good for him.
  77. MUSIC: [3] (BRIDGE) NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER — LET IT FINISH.

The Ritual

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